Dream to provide rehab for poor

2012-08-04 00:00

WHEN the rich seek help for drug and alcohol addiction, they can afford the rehab centres one sees advertised on the Internet.

The poor often just don’t access treatment.

Monty Naidoo, who runs the humble Panorama Recovery Centre, feels the pinch in two ways — having to find funds to expand the centre and being inundated with calls from people seeking treatment.

“Addiction has no class,” says Naidoo, himself a former alcoholic.

“Drugs and alcohol tear families apart and the destruction causes pain in all social circles. Everyone deserves a chance to escape from this cycle of torture.”

He believes the chronic demand for drug rehabilitation should be taken seriously by the government.

“If I could get bigger premises then I could double the number of people I could help. I don’t charge those who cannot pay and I raise money through fund-raising, as we have an NPO number.”

Naidoo says the problem is that the expensive rehabilitation clinics are in the business of making money, while most drug addicts in the poor communities have no access to these luxuries.

Lin Gerber of Pietermaritzburg Sanca says addiction has spread beyond the urban centres and into the rural areas.

“Premier Zweli Mkhize is very concerned about getting the right support structures in place to help people, and I think the government is very aware that drugs and alcohol addiction is a real social problem.”

Gerber says addiction and its consequences can be felt in all social areas. “The statistics can be seen everywhere. The rise in HIV infections can be linked to drugs, teenage pregnancies, school dropout rates, poor matric results, high rate of accidents on the roads, unemployment and crime levels.

“Drug and alcohol abuse affects everyone and we had a campaign asking people to look for the connection between these social problems and the addictions, but people seem to think these things are unrelated.”

Naidoo says crime is only one of the consequences of addiction. “Some men beat their wives, they become liars and thieves, they lose their jobs and they lose respect … deep down they hate themselves. Rehabilitation is more than stopping the addiction, it’s about restoring self esteem.”

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